AAA’s top motoring-related holiday gifts

To assist holiday shoppers looking for the perfect gift this season, AAA releases its top picks for motoring-automotive-related gifts. With nearly a quarter of a billion vehicles on the road in the U.S., a gift for motoring needs is something just about everyone can use.

"Motoring gifts do not have to be limited to the gear head in your life. AAA’s picks include items for those who like to tinker under the hood or simply enjoy the ride as a passenger," said John Nielsen, director of AAA Approved Auto Repair and Buying Network.

AAA’s top picks for motoring-related gifts this holiday season include:

MagnoGrip Wristbands ($16) — For the person who is always tinkering with their vehicle, a magnetic wristband can make it easier to hold onto small bolts, fasteners and other pieces that can frequently get misplaced under the hood. The polyester wristband is embedded with a super strong magnet to hold metal parts in place until they are needed.

Magellan Roadmate GPS ($199) – Just about any motorists will enjoy a Magellan Roadmate GPS navigation unit as a holiday gift. The latest model–the Magellan Roadmate 1445T–includes a 4.3-inch color touch screen and exclusive AAA TourBook information with ratings and descriptions on AAA approved places to stay, play, dine and save as well as AAA Approved Auto Repair locations. A highway lane assist function points users to the right exit, and Traffic Link provides subscription-free, live traffic updates. AAA members receive discounts and other benefits from Magellan on several units. Visit AAA.com/GPS for details.

Digital Tire Gauge ($10-$30) — Less than one in 10 vehicles has four properly inflated tires, making a digital tire gauge a gift any motorists can use. Improperly inflated tires wear out more quickly and can cause handling and braking problems that make vehicle operation less safe. AAA recommends motorists check the pressure in their tires at least once a month and inflate tires to the pressure levels posted on the driver’s door jamb–not on the tire sidewall. A digital tire gauge makes it easier to read the pressure level in a tire. A variety of models are available. Look for one with a backlit display for easier reading in low light conditions.

USB Car Charger ($14-$25) – Many gadgets these days come with USB charging cables, such as iPods and smart phones. Rather than purchasing a separate 12-volt adapter for each gadget, a USB car charger converts a vehicle’s 12-volt outlet into a USB charging outlet. With the growing number of gadgets using USB chargers, it’s smart to look for an adapter that provides more than one USB outlet.

Cordless LED Work Light ($26-$60) – A cordless LED work light can be a great addition to the garage and/or a vehicle’s emergency kit. Look for one that’s shatterproof, waterproof and comes equipped with a hook or stand to allow use of both hands while working on the car. A rechargeable unit will help save on replacement batteries, but make sure it comes with both a wall charger and 12-volt car charger–especially if planning to keep it in a vehicle.

AAA Battery Tender ($29-$59) — The AAA Battery Tender is a great gift for anyone who has a vehicle they do not use on a full-time basis, such as a collectable vehicle, seasonal car, golf cart, ATV, RV or motorcycle. By keeping the battery charged when not in use, a Battery Tender extends battery life and ensures the vehicle will be ready to start the next time it is driven. Two units are available; the AAA Battery Tender Junior will maintain a battery’s charge, while the AAA Battery Tender Plus can also recharge a wide variety of lead-acid vehicle batteries. AAA members receive a discount on Battery Tender units purchased through select AAA clubs.

Heated 12V Blanket ($21-$35) — Many drivers and passengers battle over the car’s climate control settings during road trips. While dual climate control has resolved this issue for some, for those whose vehicles do not include that feature, a heated 12-volt blanket might be a good gift. Several styles and colors are available. Look for one with a long cord to provide access for backseat passengers, and a safety timer with automatic shut-off.

Remote Start System ($80-$600) — For those living in cold-weather environments, a remote start system can be a gift they will thank you for every cold morning. Systems vary greatly in features and pricing. Some features to look for include a visual confirmation that the remote start is engaged, such as flashing the headlights; a pin switch on the hood to prevent the vehicle from starting when the hood is up; transmission monitoring to ensure the vehicle is in park before it will start; the ability to manually shut down the engine via the remote transmitter; and a coolant temperature or oil pressure sensor to automatically shut down the engine if it starts to overheat or loses oil pressure. Also, make sure the system is compatible with any vehicle immobilizer system, which may require a key with an imbedded microchip to start the car. To ensure safe and proper operation, it’s best to have a remote start system installed by a reputable auto repair facility.

AAA Membership ($38-$80) – The gift of a AAA membership provides peace of mind that comes from knowing the nation’s oldest and largest motor club will come to the rescue in a time of need. AAA membership also provides the recipient with year-round discounts on a wide variety of products and services at retail stores, auto repair facilities, hotels, restaurants, attractions, prescriptions and much more. For information on memberships, visit AAA.com.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 51 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.